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Talking to children about social injustice

It's no secret that racism and social injustice conversations make us feel uncomfortable as adults. They're just not easy to have. It's what you would call a "sensitive subject." And the reality of the situation is that it's only sensitive because it's an ugly truth that some just can't fathom. They don't want to face it. But these conversations need to be had. And unfortunately, these conversations need to be had with children as well. Acts of racism and social injustice has shown that there is no age limit or age minimum. And I get it. On one hand, you may ask yourself why even bring these type of conversations up with your kids? Why distort their innocence and alter their perception of the world that they see? Ignorance is bliss right? But the better question would be, what could be the consequences if you don't? As a mother it is our job to prepare our kids for all walks of life and we can't do that without passing on knowledge. As difficult of a conversation as this is for adults to have, it is even more difficult when you include kids. But it can be done.

Check yourself. And I know it’s easier said than done. My emotions run high when I talk about something that brings the passion out of me. It’s normal, but you want to set the tone for the conversation by entering it cool, calm, and collected.

Know which key points you want to make ahead of time. A topic like this can stem off into a thousand other conversations, so knowing the message you want to convey ahead of time will keep the conversation from derailing.

Acknowledge your bias. Your time on this earth has been longer than your kids, naturally. So you’ve seem more, you’ve experienced more, and you have had more time to form your own judgments. The last thing you want your kids to take from this conversation is the notion that all people of a certain group are bad.

Know the facts. Along with acknowledging your bias, knowing the facts eliminates the chance of you voicing your bias and opinions. If you don’t know the facts, it's okay to do the research. You don't want to provide any false information.

Prepare your kids. I’m a firm believer that you can talk to kids about anything as long as you talk to them on their level. This conversation has to be “developmentally appropriate”. Do your kids know about how this all got started? Do they have any background knowledge? And I’m talking back to the days of slavery. If your kids do not have an understanding of the foundation, anything you try to build upon that will crumble.

Know that it’s a process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this too cannot be accomplished in a day. I’ve talked with Q about social injustice since he was 7. At times, conversations we’re more in depth than others. At times it was merely a slew of questioning and providing answers. But each time we talked, it was purposeful and intentional, and he was prepared to receive the information. Understand that its okay to take your time.

Make it a two-way conversation. A lot of times when we as mothers try to get out the important stuff, it comes out in some form of redirection or lecture. As important of a topic as this is, its definitely the time to make it a two way street. Allow your kids to ask questions if they have them and make it a safe environment for them to express their feelings. Remember the goal is understanding and preparation.

Prepare for the aftermath. Communicating with your kids is only the first part. This is some heavy stuff and you need to prepare yourself for what may come next. Know that facing these truths is psychological, and be alert for any changes within your kiddos that may occur. Notice if they start to form any bias of their own, and continue to reinforce the truth that people are innately good and not all people are bad.

With the world we live in today, we as parents have our work cut out for us preparing and protecting our kids from what may be thrown their way mentally and physically. And I believe that when we continue to have these difficult conversations and keep communication open and honest, it will give us some sort of reassurance that things will be okay.

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